Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary Sunday advocated that the
controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) must be
replaced with an amended Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) so that
both security forces and civilians rights are protected.
"AFSPA represents the face of the security force, but the CrPC
does not. So, it needs to be replaced with some act that is both
for the civilians and the armed forces," Mooshahary told IANS.
"The AFSPA should be repealed and instead the CrPC must be amended
suitably with relevant provisions for protection of the rights of
the security forces together with those of the civilians," he
Mooshahary, who favoured the repeal of AFSPA in the region, said
that prolonged use of the AFSPA has alienated the civil society.
"We cannot contain insurgency related violence by alienating the
citizens; we can do so more effectively by involving them. If the
CrPC is amended, it would not be an isolated act only for the
civilians, but also be dealing with the rights of the security
forces," the former chief of the elite National Security Guard
"In the amended act the rights of the security forces as well as
the civilians can be adequately taken care of."
The AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant special powers and immunity
from prosecution to security forces to deal with raging
insurgencies in northeastern states - in large parts of Manipur,
Tripura, Assam and Nagaland and some parts of Meghalaya and in
Jammu and Kashmir.
The act is targeted by local human rights groups and international
campaigners such as Amnesty International, which say the law has
been an excuse for extrajudicial killings.
Amnesty has campaigned vociferously against the legislation, which
it sees as a stain on India's democratic credentials and a
violation of international human rights laws.
However, army officials dealing in counter-insurgency have
maintained that it is for the central and the state governments to
decide whether to repeal or continue the act.
"Human right groups never speak against the violence committed
against security forces. For the men in uniform, the AFSPA is one
of the acts that gives their human rights protection," said an
army official, who is involved in counter-insurgency operations in
Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights activist, has been on
indefinite hunger strike for nearly a decade in Manipur, demanding
the withdrawal of the AFSPA from the state.
Several human rights groups, including the powerful North East
Students' Organisation (NESO), has also been demanding withdrawal
of the AFSPA from the northeast.
"Instead of solving the militancy problem in the northeast, the
act is complicating the situation. It has resulted in a war
between the people and the members of the armed forces," said NESO
chairman Samuel Jyrwa.
In view of the outcry against the AFSPA, the central government
had appointed a five-member committee headed by Supreme Court
Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy a few years ago to examine whether the
legislated law was required or not.
After visiting all affected states, the committee submitted its
report to the central government in October 2006. The union
government has not yet made the findings public.
Not only the Jeevan Reddy's Committee, the Administrative Reforms
Commission headed by Veerappa Moily too has recommended that the
controversial act must be reviewed.